Comment by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the report of the U.S. Department of State on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments

On the 29 July, the U.S. Department of State published a report On Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments for 2013, which along with the information on adherence to obligations undertaken by the United States in agreements also provides evaluations of adherence to international agreements by other states. In particular, they formulate several claims to the Russian Federation regarding alleged violations of our obligations under some international agreements by us.

The United States has made another attempt (and quite an awkward again) to acts as a mentor due to some reason pretending to know the truth in the last instance and assessing others. They make their claims almost without proof, based on strange conclusions and assumptions, i.e. their statements are not based on their expert analysis. It seems that their goal is to create information noise, which disturbs other countries and to feed the mass media with their propagandistic brew. Or maybe the US Administration is still delusional that the world “takes Washington’s word for it”?

If the authors and publishers of this report in the United States have get used to repeat one and the same mistakes year after year, for our part, we are ready to keep persuading: to settle debatable issues and remove potential suspicions, special mechanisms within the framework of valid international agreements are envisaged, profile international forums were created, where serious expert and diplomatic works is being conducted. However, we must really work in these formats – and it is hard. Probably it is easier to “roll out” something for the public expecting a wanted effect, referring to some requirements of the US law. However, if these requirements of the law present in a poor light their own country, probably it is necessary to change these requirements.

Blatant and deliberate disinformation of the international public opinion on the adherence to the arms control, agreements by other states gives reason to doubt the credibility of the data in the report with regard to the data of compliance with international obligations by the United States. We are ready to help our colleagues from Washington to correct this omission. Objectiveness and accuracy should be the cornerstone.

We noted the accusation of Russia in violation of provisions of the INF Treaty in this report. To be noted, the United States (like they always do) do not provide any specific facts due to some reason replacing them with listing of the main articles of this Treaty. They do not make clear the essence of US claims and comments of US officials, who refer to some “classified intelligence data”. The memorable story with the myth about “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction”, which was publicly inflated by the Americans and then burst with a scandal, demonstrated what such references are worth and how much they can be trusted. Regular planting of blatantly false and provocative data in the context of the events in the East of Ukraine, ignoring objective data coming from technical means out of US control do not add trust to such “reliable intelligence sources”. Years are going on, but history teaches the Americans nothing.

Their another attempt to discredit Russia looks lopsided and outrageous. Especially against the backdrop of the numerous “liberties” in the application of INF by the United States. We said this to the US representatives many times and say it again: we are seriously concerned about the use of target-missiles of missile defence, which have similar characteristics to intermediate-range missiles, in tests. The same refers to the armed US drones, which evidently are covered by the definition of ground-launched cruise missiles in the Treaty. The topic of Mk-41 launch systems, which the United States intend to deploy in Poland and Romania, has been quite notorious lately. These launch systems can be used to launch intermediate-range cruise missiles, but their ground-launched version will be a gross violation of the INF Treaty.

Of course, Washington is aware of all these problems, but stubbornly refuses to discuss them substantially. All of this raises big doubts with regard to the sincerity of official statements by the United States that they are committed to the INF goals and tasks, as well as ready to really work jointly with Russia to ensure adherence to the Treaty regime and increase its viability. It seems that raising of artificial changes against Russia pursues the goal to deflect attention away from the listed violations by the United States by creating some sort of a “smoke screen”.

The unfavourable situation with the adherence to the INF raises special concerns against the backdrop of the continuing planned and methodical shaking of the global strategic stability system by the United States. The Americans started this process in 2001, having unilaterally withdrawn from the ABM Treaty. Now this is aggravated by the accelerated and unlimited build-up of the global missile defence system by the United States, lack of their wish to free the territory of other states from the US tactical nuclear stockpiles deployed there, the development of the provocative “Prompt Global Strike” strategy and the exaggerated build-up of conventional armaments, including their attack component. The stubborn refusal of the United States to participate in the development of international agreements on prevention of deployment of weapons in outer space is quite revealing. In this way, Washington is actually forming a new ultra technological threat to the entire world, which can overthrow the strategic stability system on our planet.

We need to pay attention to the numerous other “paradoxes” and “twists” in the US policy in arms control and non-proliferation. Thus, Washington was the initiator of the conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), however, it is in the United States that this important treaty is not ratified yet. We are worried that there are no signs of changes in this situation in the near future. Moreover, we are stating signals that US nuclear laboratories actively lobby support of ready-to-use US nuclear polygons to organise new large-scale nuclear explosions. This creates a dangerous situation in the area of nuclear non-proliferation. The “stagnation” with the ratification of the Treaty by the United States is the main obstacle to the entry of the CTBT into force.

We are perplexed that the United States have still not ratified the vital Amendment of 2005 to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. We have to return to the manners currently popular in Washington again. It is not polite to fall behind with this Amendment and at the same time aspire to act as a “mentor” and “supervisor” towards the rest of the world in what concerns nuclear security (NS). We have the right to expect a more responsible approach from the country, which once became the initiator of regular Nuclear Security Summits. We would like to hope that Washington, United States, will finally ratify this Amendment by the next summit, which is scheduled for 2016.

The United States have been sticking to the demonstrative practice of spreading insinuations about the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) for a long time. The Washington’s affirmations (distributed year after year) related to the Russia’s compliance with the BTWC have no proof, subject to discuss or are simply awkward. For instance, let us review the mention in the current report that Russian entities have remained engaged in dual-use, biological activities, and therefore, it is not clear what is happening there. It is evident that they make a stake at low awareness of the wider community that the United States have the most (up to 5000) biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) biological laboratories, of which, according to the data of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, no less than 1356 have a licence for working with listed (especially hazardous) pathogens. All these sites are dual-use sites, but the listed pathogens are directly related to the BTWC.

After Washington unilaterally cynically disrupted the negotiations on the development of the Protocol to reinforce the BTWC, the Americans started to fiercely block any attempts to reinforce the Convention on legally binding grounds, incl. by creating a verification mechanism. Because such a legally binding document would allow to remove concerns of states in the context of the implementation of the BTWC.

Moreover, despite the recommendations adopted by consensus by all the participating states of the BTWC and the CWC with regard to the removal of reservations under the Geneva Protocol of 1925 regarding the prohibition to use chemical and biological weapons in wars and also the UN General Assembly resolution Measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which is regularly adopted by consensus, the United States still have their reservations to the Geneva Protocol. This does not reinforce regimes of prohibition of biological and chemical weapons and raises big questions with regard to the real commitment of the United States to these regimes.

The report expresses special opinion by the United States regarding the inaccuracy of the statements made by Russia to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Americans are complaining, in particular, about “satisfactory” Russian data on stockpiles of chemical weapons, undeclared former chemical weapons production facilities and sites, where this type of WMD could be produced. At the same time, the refer to the bilateral discussions of this topic with us in 2002, 2003 and 2006.

We believe that such statement of the question is strange and improper. At each regular session of the Executive Committee and the Conference of States Parties, two leading OPCW bodies, Russia presents report on its former military and chemical programme. There is full clarity in all the aspects of this process. We appeal to Washington not to confuse the matter.

Almost one third of the report section devoted to the United States’ claims to the implementation of multilateral agreements by other states fall on the Treaty on Open Skies (OST). The authors of this report go all-out to “prove” that Russia allegedly created obstacles to the implementation of this Treaty. Answers to many of the claims, which Washington managed to “gather”, were provided long ago. Many US “leads” are purely technical, and it would be quite uneasy for the public to understand what they are about, if we break them down point by point.

Nevertheless, we will provide some examples illustrating how the Americans distort the facts. One of their main claims is that Russia allegedly restricts the use of air space for OST purposes. They mention four “cases”: air space over Moscow, over Chechnya, 10 kilometre strip along the border of Russia with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, over the area of 2013 Zapad exercise.

Let us look at these situations closer. The first thing to be noted: The Treaty envisages that the observation flights should take place taking into consideration national (in this case Russian, as well as – with regard to 2013 Zapad exercise – Belorussian) rules of use of air space.

Restrictions on flights of aircrafts over restricted areas of Moscow and Chechnya were introduced because of security concerns. Unlike the United States, we cannot disregard this. To be noted, only overflight height is restricted in these areas, which, keeping in mind real technical possibilities of OST parties, does not create any unsurpassable obstacles “for the observation of any point on the entire territory” of the Russian Federation as envisaged by the Treaty. To be noted, restrictions for flights over densely populated regions and industrials sites are also practiced by European countries, incl. allies of the United States. And Russian “open skies missions” have no claims to them in this regard.

When we introduced restriction for OST overflights near the border of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, we strictly followed the provisions of the Treaty, which prohibits observation flights within 10 kilometres of a non-State Party. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are such states. Those who still consider them to be Georgian are behind the times for good six years.

The need to set restricted areas over the area of exercise involving battle firing is also evident. Russia (and Belarus) took care of security of US or Norwegian open skies aircrafts, which they intended to use for overflight of this area. At the same time, Russia and Belarus published notices about restricted areas well in advance, informed them to the observing party and proposed alternative routes and flight height, thus having implemented OST requirements. To be noted, some US allies also set restricted areas, in particular over positions of their Patriot air defence missile systems. The report has no mention of this. It is sad that in this case we see a “hidden agenda” in US schemes.

Another claim to us is that we close Russian air fields in days of national holidays. What do we say, if such practices are widely used by other OST parties without making the United States allergic.

We draw attention to the significant violations of the Treaty requirement with regard to the observation of any point on the entire territory of the United States by the United States.

Thus, the special procedures, which the United States set for observation flights over the Aleutians forced Russia to make a 14 hours long observation flight within a day, which could negatively affect its security.

Finally, at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, Washington delayed signature of the report on the verification of the Russian observation aircraft An-30B with digital equipment for eight months (instead of the two weeks set by the Treaty), thus putting in doubt the “digital future” of the OST.

Against this backdrop, low security of US observation aircrafts, low quality of preparation of on-board US interpreters and their coordination with crews may seem a “small point”. As a result of this, there are flight delays, transfers of arrival times, ignoring of instructions of air traffic control bodies and so on. This not only incurs significant costs on Russia, but also can negatively affect flight security.

The US report also mentions the “claims” of the United States towards us under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). We see no reason to return to this topic. The times of CFE have passed, and these were the United States, which have made this situation happen, because they and their allies were stubbornly attempting to resolve their geopolitical tasks, using CFE tools for it, for a long time.

To summarise, it can be said that the US report is a catalogue of invented chicanery to others without any serious attempts to “look at themselves in the glass”.

1 August 2014